Professor Fleming†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

L101: Western World Masterpieces I

Spring 2011 Second Essay


From the very basic prompts below, craft a thesis statementóan argumentówhich you will defend throughout the paper.Your thesis statement is due posted online before class on Thursday March 31.Failure to submit a thesis statement on this day will result in a failing grade for the essay.

Then write a polished 2Ė3 page double-spaced essay in a 12-pt font.This is due in class Tuesday, April 12.

All papers must have

       A clear thesis statement / introductory paragraph which fully outlines what exactly your paper will cover

       Clearly organized body paragraphs which support your thesis

       Abundant textual evidence

o  This is the number one priority in a paper like this: prove to me that you have read the texts very carefully and understood the authorís language

      A L101 Essay checklist stapled to top of the the paper



No outside resources are required.If you wish to use any secondary resources for your paper, you must obtain written permission from me before you hand in your paper.Failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the assignment.

Your audience is me and other members of the class.As a result, donít spend too much time on summary.Assume weíve read the texts, and are familiar with the same basic information.Summarize aspects of the larger story which are essential to your argument.DONíT tell me stories: thatís Homerís job.Your job is to make an argument about Homer (or Sophocles, or Aristophanes)

Extra credit: visit the IPFW Writing Center before handing your paper in, and receive 5% bonus on you essay grade (visit to set up an appointment)




(you are also free to develop you own prompt, but you must CHECK WITH ME before you submit your thesis statement)


       Think about the monsters of Beowulf: they all constitute serious threats to humans, but there are many differences in their action, characterization, and presentation.  Do we learn more about one than the others?  Is their perspective / outlook / situation ever presented?  Can we view any of the sympathetically?  Do they serve a greater good, from the poetís perspective?


       What is the role of women in Beowulf?  Who are the women of Beowulf? How are they presented?  Are they more or less important than the men (if this question can even be answered)?  How do the actions and words of women compare to those of men?  (Note: since we are dealing with a pre-modern society and text, the role of women is obviously greatly different than that of today; donít point out the obvious, and donít get carried away in your condemnation of the past)



       Should Beowulf ultimately be seen as a poem which praises or criticizes the world it presents?  Is Beowulf a role-model for the poet, or a warning?


       How does Dante's conception of the underworld differ from that of Homerís in the Odyssey?  What does this tell us about each author's concerns?



       Consider any individual sinner of the Inferno (especially those who have an extended treatment): how do they fit into the larger scheme of the Commedia?  What do they tell us about Danteís conception of justice or sin?  (Farinata; Ulysses; Brunetto Latini; Francesca Ö )


       Danteís idea of sin is more or less set by the philosophy and theology of his day.However, how he chooses to depict each sin and punishment, or individual sinners, is entirely up for him.Consider which sins you think Dante was more sympathetic to.